The scheduled December groundbreaking of the first phase of the $5.5 billion Honolulu Rail Transit Project has been delayed by at least a month, says project spokesman Scott Ishikawa.

“Based on the time needed to get participating agencies to review the draft environmental impact statement and the time needed for the federal and state level to approve the final EIS, we decided to push back construction until the end of January,” he says.

In late October, the city awarded the $482.9-million first-phase contract to Omaha-based Kiewit Pacific Co. The 6.5-mile design-build project is expected to take three years to complete.

Ishikawa says the delay will not affect Kiewit’s contract, or the city’s plan to seek proposals on November 18 for the project’s next phase, the Kamehameha Highway Design-Build contract.

The entire 20-mile Honolulu Rail Transit Project, stretching from Kapolei to Ala Moana, is estimated to be completed in 2019.